Take Windows to the next level
Personalize, Create, Extend
Title: Object Desktop 2007
Publisher: Stardock Corp.
Requirements: Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista
Hardware: 1 GHz Processor or faster with at least 128MB of total system
Executive Summary of Object Desktop 2007
Object Desktop is a suite of desktop enhancement utilities designed to upgrade Microsoft
Windows to support a host of new features. These features allow users to customize the
look, feel, and function of the OS to suit their particular needs. Some have described
Object Desktop as a third party upgrade to Windows.
Object Desktop 2007 comes at a critical time – the transition point between Windows XP
and Windows Vista.
For Windows XP users, Object Desktop transforms Windows to look, feel, and function
however the user wants. But Object Desktop users also get free updates for an entire year
after purchase. That means they get upgrades and new features specific to Windows
Stardock is working closely with Microsoft to deliver new features to Windows Vista that
take advantage of Microsoft’s new graphics engine called Milcore (which is what powers
Windows Presentation Foundation).
As a result, Object Desktop 2007 users can turbo-charge Windows XP and be amongst
the first to see the real potential of Windows Vista.
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Object Desktop in Detail
As a suite, Object Desktop is made up of many different components. Each component
takes care of a specific part of the OS.
The programs that make up Object Desktop are broken into three parts: Programs that
enable users to personalize their Windows experience, programs that allow users to create
their own enhancements to Windows, and programs that extend the base feature set of
WindowBlinds – WindowBlinds applies new visual styles to Windows. A visual style can
change the title bar, title bar buttons, push buttons, radio buttons, scrollbars, the Start
bar, and much more. New controls can be added to the user interface of Windows such
as roll-up buttons, always on top buttons, media player controls, and more.
Desktops – Apply desktops that can change the Windows Explorer environment to look
and function completely different or simply look better.
IconPackager – IconPackager can apply “packages” of icons. A user who wants to
change all their icons in one click would simply download a package of icons and apply
Gadgets – The Object Desktop Gadgets are a series of “mini-programs” that you can run
on your desktop that provide additional functionality to your desktop. Examples include
Radio tuner, Calendar, To-Do list, Weather forecast, Stock ticker, and World News report.
Suites – Suites include all of the above into a single file called a .suite file. When a suite
is applied your GUI can be changed, your desktop changed, your icons changed and
gadgets added to your desktop to give your Windows experience a complete makeover
both visually and functionally.
IconDeveloper – IconDeveloper is a program that lets you easily create Windows icons.
SkinStudio – SkinStudio makes it relatively easy to create your own user interfaces to be
used by programs such as WindowBlinds and Windows Media Player.
DesktopX – Build your own desktops or create widgets to be added to your desktop.
Theme Manager – Use Theme Manager to create your own suites and manage all your
skins, themes, icons, and suites.
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Virtual Desktops – Add the world’s fastest, most powerful virtual desktops to your
Windows taskbar or to any program that supports ActiveX.
Keyboard Launchpad – Keyboard Launchpad allows users to assign hot keys to nearly
every action possible on a Windows computer. Launch programs, paste saved clipboards,
control individual programs and more.
RightClick – RightClick enables users to replace their Windows right-click desktop menu
with one of their own design. This can greatly improve productivity and provide access to
their programs and data conveniently.
IconX – IconX is a program that enhances your Windows desktop icons so that they can
be any size, zoom on mouse over, have shadows underneath them and generally make
them more attractive and usable.
WindowFX – WindowFX adds special effects to Windows such as shadows, transition
animations, tiled windows, scaleable windows and more.
Other Components of Object Desktop
Here are some of the other components that make up Object Desktop that are
available for download via Stardock Central.
ObjectBar – ObjectBar is a program that allows users to customize their Windows Start
bar or create entirely new bars, wharfs, finders, and other desktop level interfaces to
manage their programs, running tasks, and system tray.
TweakShell – TweakShell lets users tune their Windows settings to control which
programs launch on start-up, what default settings the shell starts with and more.
ObjectEdit – ObjectEdit is a simple but powerful text editor. It is designed to be
substantially more powerful than Notepad but keep the same small size and speed of
Enhanced File Dialog – Extend your Windows file/save dialog to support new features
that make it convenient to get back to directories you often go to and access a host of
handy features and utilities right from the file dialog.
Much More! - There are many other components that are part of Object Desktop that
allow you to tweak some aspect of the OS previously thought impossible to do.
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Why use Object Desktop?
Now that we’ve established basically what Object Desktop does, the next question is,
why would you want to use Object Desktop?
The answer depends on what you use your computer for. Ultimately, Object Desktop
gives users the power to transform Windows into whatever they want.
For example, perhaps they want Windows to function more like an alternative OS.
Perhaps they want to brand Windows to match their company’s general style. Maybe they
want to sell a custom made computer that isn’t obviously running Windows. Perhaps
they’re a power user interested in increasing their productivity. Or maybe they just want
to make Windows look and feel “cooler.”
What we do know is that Object Desktop has become quite popular with consumers,
power users, and corporate IT managers for very different reasons. At the end of the day,
Object Desktop simply lets users turn Windows into a piece of clay to be molded by them
into whatever they desire.
What would you change about Windows?
Take a new look at Windows, its interfaces, and the way it works. How might these
things be altered?
Parts of Windows:
The Graphical User Interface (The title bars, push buttons, scrollbars, radio buttons,
check boxes, the Start bar, the Start menu, and the toolbars).
The icons on your system.
Your Windows desktop (normally a wallpaper).
The way you access your programs.
The way you access the programs that are already running.
The way you manage items in the Windows system tray.
Object Desktop lets you customize these six things. It provides a set of utilities, each
focusing on one or more of these tasks. Object Desktop’s job is to let you decide how
Windows looks, feels, functions.
Now to describe what the various programs do with more detail.
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Theme Manager allows users to change the look and feel of their Windows PC from
a single user interface.
Figure 1: Create suites, manage your skins and themes, and apply it all from a single interface.
If we think of the parts of Object Desktop as focusing on a key aspect of the Windows
environment, then Theme Manager lets you change your entire Windows environment at
once by applying Suites of themes/skins/icons together at the same time.
For example, a Suite might use WindowBlinds to change the GUI, DesktopX to change
the desktop itself, a wallpaper to change the desktop wallpaper, and an icon package to
change the icons.
Theme Manager is designed to let you control all your skins, themes, icons, wallpapers,
etc. from a single consistent user interface.
Theme Manager is licensed by a host of companies to provide branded desktops (nVidia,
ATI, Nintendo among others).
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WindowBlinds is the part of Object Desktop that can change the look and feel of the
Windows graphical user interface.
WindowBlinds changes the title bars, borders, push buttons, radio buttons, check boxes,
start bar and other elements of the Windows interface. It does this by loading “Visual
Styles.” Windows XP, by default, comes with a single visual style “Windows XP style”
with 3 flavors – blue, silver, and olive. WindowBlinds enables users to add more visual
styles to their system.
Figure 2: WindowBlinds is powerful enough to make Windows XP look and feel very similar to
Windows Vista – and run just as fast while doing it.
When WindowBlinds is run, a system tray icon (which can be hidden) is added that
provides a link to the WindowBlinds “skin” manager. From here, the individual settings
can be changed.
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Highlights of WindowBlinds
Enables users to add visual styles to Windows.
WindowBlinds visual styles can radically change the Windows GUI.
Can change the color or brightness of a visual style on the fly.
Allows additional title bar buttons to be added (roll-up, always on top, MP3 player
Allows users to change their Internet Explorer and Explorer toolbar icons.
Allows users to change their Windows progress animations.
Supports hardware acceleration in nVidia and ATI cards to improve system performance.
Right mouse click on title bar can be used to minimize applications.
Supports different visual styles for different programs.
Can skin non-theme aware applications.
Can skin the Windows command prompt.
Figure 2: WindowBlinds can move buttons, add buttons, add new functionality to the Windows GUI.
Figure 3: The Start menu can be fully skinned as well.
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Figure 4: You can change the color of your skins on the fly to any color you want.
Figure 5: Changing skins in WindowBlinds is a snap.
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Windows XP Without WindowBlinds:
Figure 6: Even today, many programs are not "theme aware" meaning that they get a hodge-podge
of Windows 95 and Windows XP/Vista controls.
Windows XP With WindowBlinds:
Figure 7: With WindowBlinds, even non-theme aware programs get fully skinned to have a
consistent, polished look and feel whether it's Windows XP or Windows Vista.
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DesktopX is the part of Object Desktop designed to allow users to extend their
Windows desktop to have a host of new functionality both from a visual point of
view and from a utilitarian point of view.
When run, DesktopX has an optional system tray icon that lets users enable/disable the
features of DesktopX. It can load themes (entire desktops) or individual objects. And as
long as DesktopX is installed, users can download and run widgets without DesktopX
even running (widgets just use DesktopX DLLs for their run-time).
Highlights of DesktopX
DesktopX focuses on providing 3 main benefits:
1) Building custom desktops. Users can use DesktopX to build custom desktops which
can then be saved and distributed.
2) Add “Widgets” to your desktop. Widgets are mini-programs that provide additional
functionality to the computer.
3) Add objects that behave essentially as “super icons.”
Figure 8: DesktopX was the first program for any personal computer that made it easy for users to
create mini-apps on the desktop.
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Figure 9: DesktopX lets you also create entire desktops which people can use for kiosks, secure
desktops, or just for an alternative to what Microsoft and Apple have thought of.
Figure 10: DesktopX supports the creation of desktop objects. Think of these objects as sort of
"super icons". Easier to make than icons, animation and mouse states supported, and
DesktopX makes it easy for all types of users to customize their Windows desktop
environment to suit their needs and desires.
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IconPackager allows users to change all their Windows icons at once by applying
different sets of icons called “icon packages.” It also lets users create their own icon
packages to save for later or distribute to others.
In addition, IconPackager integrates into the Windows shell so that users can change the
icons of individual files, programs, or file types. It is so seamless that many users don’t
even realize that this functionality is being provided by IconPackager and not Windows
Highlights of IconPackager
Can change nearly all of the Windows icons at once by applying icon “packages.”
Can change the file type icons.
Includes Icon Explorer, designed to make it easy to navigate through libraries of icons
and view them easily.
Shell integration allows users browsing through their system to right-click on any file and
go to the added “Icon” tab and change the icon.
Figure 11: IconPackager makes it easy to change all your Windows icons. “All” as in hundreds of
icons on Windows 2000, XP, and Vista. It also makes it easy to create your own icon packages.
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Figure 12: Users can easily change the icons on individual programs and file types.
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IconDeveloper lets users create icons. While there are many icon editing products
on the market already, what makes IconDeveloper stand out is its focus on making
it easy for end users to create their own icons.
IconDeveloper is perfect for those creative individuals who either currently have cool
images they want to turn into an icon, or they prefer to make new images using a program
like Photoshop or Illustrator or some other graphics package instead of some proprietary
icon bitmap editor.
Figure 13: Create your own icons very very easily for Windows 2000, XP, and Windows Vista.
Highlights of IconDeveloper
Can turn PNG, JPG, BMP, and other common graphics files into Windows .ICO (icon)
Can easily change the color of individual or entire sets of icons at once.
Includes a host of scaling options to ensure that images look nice as minimum 16x16
icons or higher.
Seamless support for all formats of Windows icons including the new alpha blended
Windows XP icon format.
Integrates with Stardock IconPackager.
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SkinStudio is a powerful program designed to let graphics designers create their
own visual styles or Windows Media Player skins. It is, without a doubt, the most
powerful “skin” creation utility available anywhere for use in OS customization.
There are so many features in SkinStudio that it is impossible to cover even a significant
fraction of them here.
Highlights of SkinStudio
Provides a wealth of features to facilitate the creation of skins (both visual styles and
Windows Media Player skins).
Enables users to make use of third party .msstyles files via WindowBlinds without
having to patch any system files or violate the Windows EULA.
Includes utilities for colorizing skins and themes quickly and intelligently.
Can import pieces from other skins.
Supports the new Universal Skin Format (USF). A single format that can then be
exported into skins for specific programs.
Figure 14: With SkinStudio it is easy to create simple skins but has the power and complexity to also
create very sophisticated looking user interfaces.
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IconX is a program that enhances your existing desktop icons.
With IconX you can give your desktop icons shadows, make them any size, have them
zoom up on mouse-over and other effects that can make your desktop icons easier to see
or react in a “cool” way. IconX allows you to change your icon labels to make them
easier to read and better looking. In short, IconX makes good icons look great and great
icons look awesome, thanks to special effects like shadows, anti-aliasing and dynamic
Figure 15: Enhance your desktop icons.
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WindowFX adds special effects to your Windows experience.
WindowFX is a special effects program for Windows that allows users to add a variety of
opening and closing, transition and other visual effects to the user interface.
WindowFX has been designed to be a great way to spice up your system while still
adding some productivity benefits (such as maximizing windows to a specific size).
Unlike many programs that fall into the "eye candy" category, WindowFX strives to not
get in the way of doing real work on the computer.
Figure 16: WindowFX provides a simple interface to access a wealth of new effects you can add to
Windows XP and soon Windows Vista.
Figure 17: Users can tile/scale their windows rather than simply resize or minimize them.
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Figure 18: Get taskbar previews and shadows under your windows.
Figure 19: Choose from a bunch of different minimize, maximize, open and close animations to give
your desktop more spice.
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Keyboard Launchpad (KLP) is a program that allows you to quickly and easily
assign hot keys to launch programs, visit URLs, paste saved clipboards, control
individual programs, perform system commands, and more.
What makes KLP special is that it works system wide. No matter what program you're in,
no matter what you're doing, you can always access the hotkeys of KLP. It also has an
open plugin format so that if there is a specialized program you wish to add your own hot
key support to, you can do so.
Figure 20: Assign hot keys for virtually any function on Windows.
Figure 21: Assign saved clipboards to hot keys as well.
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RightClick is a simple-to-use program that enables users to customize their
Windows desktop context menu.
By default, right-clicking on the Windows desktop offers only a handful of options to
choose from. Moreover, in order to access it, you have to be able to reach the Windows
desktop which is often covered with windows.
RightClick can be set up to open upon hitting a hot-key (such as the Windows key) to
always be accessible. Virtually any command imaginable can be added to the RightClick
Figure 22: Quickly add new functionality to your desktop right-click menu.
RightClick is also fully skinnable using either its own skinning format or inheriting the
WindowBlinds visual style and incorporating it. Users also have a host of display
options to control the appearance of the menu to ensure maximum readability and visual
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Figure 23: Example of RightClick in action.
RightClick can even be configured to completely replace the Windows Start bar. It
supports all the functionality of the Windows Start bar including the System Tray (no
other program can come close to being able to do that).
Figure 24: Add widgets and gadgets to your RightClick menu.
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Gadgets are a new category of mini-application designed to provide information,
useful lookup, or enhance an application or service on your Windows PC or the
Examples might include a media player, a Google search, a to-do list, stock ticker and
much more. They provide a convenient way to access a variety of information without
having to launch a web browser or whole new program.
Figure 25: Object Desktop includes a host of gadgets that run on Windows 2000, Windows XP, and
Getting content for Object Desktop
WinCustomize is the world’s most popular Windows customization site. With thousands
of skins, themes, icons, suites, wallpapers and more, it supports a vast community of
users and artists.
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Using Stardock Central
Stardock Central is a next generation software distribution program. From it, users
can easily update any of their Stardock software or content.
Stardock Central allows users to make use of its software without having to keep track of
CDs. In fact, once the user has installed it the first time, the system will associate their
serial # with their email address so that if users lose their Object Desktop CD and serial #,
they will still be able to install the entire Object Desktop package from Stardock Central.
Figure 26: The real power of Object Desktop is that it is constantly evolving; improving with new
features, components, and updates being made.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are questions we receive from reviewers and end users on a regular basis.
Q: Will Object Desktop slow down my system?
A: It depends on your computer and which components you use. Some parts of Object Desktop
are applications that create content or only use resources when they are actually applying their
change to your system (SkinStudio, IconDeveloper, and IconPackager).
Some use very little resources (Keyboard Launchpad).
Some use very little or a lot depending on what theme you have loaded (WindowBlinds,
And some do use quite a bit of horse power and are targeting systems with higher specifications
But the main thing to remember is that these programs are evolving and have evolved. For
example, in the early days WindowBlinds did slow down people’s systems because:
1) They were running much slower systems.
2) WindowBlinds had to make a lot of compromises to run on Windows 95, 98, and ME
(now there’s a separate versions for Win98/ME versus Windows 2000 versus Windows
XP with each optimized for each OS).
3) The tools for creating skins used to be much more primitive with no built in ways to
Now WindowBlinds, for example, runs faster than the bundled Windows XP visual style engine
and does it using less memory. But for those who have reviewed WindowBlinds or DesktopX or
some other component of Object Desktop in the past, it is important to remember that these
programs have evolved a great deal to reach their present form.
Q: What about Windows Vista?
A: Windows Vista is the most significant update to Microsoft Windows since Windows 95. In
many ways, Windows Vista is a whole new OS that is made to look like previous versions of
Windows. This is particularly true on the desktop.
Stardock has been working with Windows Vista since the earliest betas and is a Microsoft partner
on developing content and technology for it. Users of Object Desktop automatically get free
updates to Object Desktop for an entire year after purchase, which means they’ll also receive the
new Windows Vista content Stardock is working on.
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Q: What are the hardware requirements for Object Desktop?
A: Stardock recommends running Object Desktop on PCs that run at least 1 GHz with at least
128MB of total system memory. ATI Radeon and nVidia GeForce 2 or later video cards have
special enhancements that make Object Desktop components such as WindowBlinds,
WindowFX, and DesktopX run even faster.
Q: What operating systems are supported?
A: Object Desktop components do run on Windows 98 and ME but Stardock only officially
supports Windows 2000 and Windows XP.
Q: What do I get when I purchase Object Desktop?
A: Object Desktop includes all of its components, plus a full year of updates, along with any new
programs added to Object Desktop during that year. At the end of the year, users can renew their
access to new updates and new components at a discounted price of $34.95.
Q: Are there tutorials on how to create skins, themes, and icons?
A: Yes. Most of the home pages for the individual components include links to tutorials on how to
create content for them.
Q: Will Object Desktop work on Vista?
A: Yes! Vista will include several key new technologies that will greatly enhance the functionality
of Object Desktop (such as a new compositing engine, XAML, vector based themes, and more).
Q: How much memory does Object Desktop use?
A: This will vary depending on how much of it you are using at once. However, it has been
designed to use relatively little memory. Unlike many utility suites, Object Desktop DOES NOT
replace any system files. Instead, it inherits from what is already built into Windows and extends
it. As a result, memory and file size use is much less. WindowBlinds, for example, uses around
500K of memory. Most Object Desktop components use less than 5 megabytes of memory each
(about that same as Windows notepad).
Q: Where can I get more help for Object Desktop?
A: Users can get peer help at http://forums.stardock.com. In addition, Stardock provides email
support at email@example.com and phone support at 734-927-0677.
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